The Claims of Future Persons
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This paper defends a deontological egalitarianism in the ethics of future generations. Concerns about the non-identity problem have been taken as a reason to develop sufficientarian approaches to intergenerational justice. This paper argues for a solution to the non-identity problem that refers to the claims of future persons. In principle, the content of these claims could be spelled out with a sufficientarian and an egalitarian approach. What speaks against sufficientarianism, however, is that the sufficiency threshold, unless it is set very low, would have to be set arbitrarily. The hidden justification behind a higher threshold would be egalitarian. It draws its plausibility from the justified belief that future persons have a claim on us that we leave equally valuable shares of natural resources to them.
I am grateful to Maike Albertzart, Roland Hesse, Johanna Privitera, Lukas Tank, Gabriel Wollner and the two reviewers for their critical remarks and helpful comments on earlier versions of this paper.
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